I think most would agree that bullet discussions are probably one of the most popular and contoversial, topics on this forum, and for good reason. My reason for posting this this is not to pick out a brand, a best or worst, etc., but to talk about constuction and properties, and let each person decide what might be the best option for there own application. I have stated in the past that "there is no perfect bullet" but there certainly are better choices for the application. We are talking primarily hunting applications here, although much will apply to target. I will give my opinions, based on my own experience from years of hunting, testing, and making my own bullets, and I welcome input from others including some of the bullet making sponsors. I would also ask that this not turn into name callin', ($&*%@) contest, so keep it civil please! Keep in mind that this is a "Long Range Forum", so most of the comments made by me will be with this in mind. I realize that "Long range" might be anywhere from 400 to well over 1000 yards but I'm hoping that this will all be covered.
Most of my experience is with copper/alloy, lead core bullets, so I will focus mostly on them. IMO, the mono's belong only on the "short end" of the long range spectrum because of lower b.c. and expansion limitations. This doesn't rule them out completely, but there are far better choices at the ranges being addressed on this forum.
The bullet designs are more complex than can be recognized on the surface and several variables, matched up in different ways, affect the bullets performance both while in flight and upon impact. This includes, but probably isn't limited to, the following:
Pure lead and copper vs amount of alloy, bonded vs non, thickness of jacket at varying points of the bullet, point configuration i.e., (secant ogive, tangent ogive, ballistic tip, open point, meplat diameter), b.c., sectional density, frontal area and etc.
Let's start with alloy. More lead, more copper, more malleable (less brittle). Most manufactures use a copper alloy jacket primarily because pure copper jackets can not be rapidly produced without sticking in the dies. Alloys, on the other hand, reduce copper fouling. In general, pure copper and lead will tend to stay together better, all else equal. Some manufacturers use alloy in the lead to help slow expansion rather than by thickening the jacket. There is a trade off here between accuracy and acceptable expansion and weight retention. Also, lead alloys tend to"break off" easier even though it takes more force to expand them (malleability). Normally, a thinner jacket equals better accuracy but increased expansion. Bonding the jacket and core has become popular because you can get away with a little less jacket and retain more weight while maintaining the accuracy of a thinner jacket and the penetration desired. Bonding does "somewhat" limit expansion at long range, but not to a great degree. The biggest difference occurs when the non bonded sheds the jacket or simply disintegrates at high velocity. The nose configuration not only affects b.c. but also expansion characteristics. A ballistic tip will, all else equal, expand more rapidly than an open point. The tip forces back into the jacket upon impact and initiates the expansion. This is usually accentuated by the fact that ballistic tip bullets have a wider meplat at the tip/jacket junction. Most open tip bullets of the long range variety, have a very small meplat in order to raise the b.c. This can be an advantage at higher velocity for a given thickness of jacket and shape, but a disadvantage at lower velocity.
In general, the more components, or steps in the process of bullet making, the less chance for accuracy. This is why target style bullets are very simple in design and the emphasis is on balance and concentricity. i.e. no bonding, partitions, etc. Most hunting bullets, on the other hand, use thicker jackets, partitions, bonding, different alloys and etc. but are not intended to be used at some of the ranges we discuss on this forum. In a perfect world, we as long range hunters, want all of the above. Superior accuracy, high b.c., expand at low velocity and yet hold together at high velocity. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE THE VERY BEST OF ALL THESE QUALITIES IN ANY ONE BULLET, so what we do we do is try to find a combination of the most of these qualities available. This most often leads us to target style bullets because they fill most of the long range requirements but fall short of some closer range applications. It is my opinion, in general, when target style bullets are used for big game hunting, especially larger game such as elk, the heaviest available in that caliber that will shoot in your rifle are the best. The higher s.d. and more mass will be more forgiving when using these frangible bullets. This of course would also give the edge to larger calibers.
All these things that I have mentioned above are the reason that I started making my own bullets several years ago with some good success for my hunting style. I am pleased that several of the major manufacturers have stepped up to the plate for the long range crowd and I expect there will be more in the future. There is still a ways to go......Rich
The only thing that I might point out, is that all-copper bullets are starting to make advances, both in BC and minimum expansion velocity. They're not the metal ping pong balls that they used to be. The Barnes LRX is designed to expand down to 1600fps. That's pretty incredible! The BC of the 7mm 168gr LRX is approaching .600, which ain't too shabby. It's not the be-all, end-all LR bullet, by any means, but they're certainly making progress, in that regard.
The other thing is that you said that it's impossible to have the very best of all these qualities in any one bullet. I would agree that this is currently the case, but with all the major bullet advances that have been made recently, it might not be impossible for long. An Interbond in the shape of an A-Max would comes pretty close to fullfilling most of those criteria. A Berger Hybrid with the rear half of the bullet bonded would be pretty sweet, as well. A Barnes LRX with a secant or hybrid ogive, and without the grooves, would come pretty close to ideal. These ideas may not be feasible right now, but they do illustrate that it wouldn't take much to get a near perfect bullet.
Hot very good at this type of discussion....but I haven't let that hold me back in the past.
BTW, bigngeen's dad, I think it was, was shooting a 6.5 Sherman today. Sweet!!!
Searching for the "right" bullet has been a quest of my for many years.
Regarding the 270 Win - the 90 gr Sierra HP was top notch of chucks and yotes out to only a little over 400 yards. With an MV of 3400 they were flawless, though not LR.
The 130 offerings in that caliber ruined the entire front half of a deer if shot at less than 200 yards. Thus all shots were taken at greater than 250 if at all possible.
Hornady Interbonds in 277 are the hardiest, toughest jackets around. They hold together when most other's dust at extreme velocities. But terminally perform flawless terminally in my experience. However their bc is the pits and the lead tip deforms. That gives me the vapors.
Nosler Accubond and ballistic tips have tough jackets, holding up well to the riggers of 3 groove 8 twist bores. They are accurate as a bullet needs to be and perform very well terminally. Even when hitting a deer sized animal at under a hundred yards.
After witnessing what a 375 cal 350 SMK will do to a darn good sized rock at 600 + yards, I think it was. At that distance the FPE is supposed to be nearly 6000 FtLbs. Seeing as that is the only bullet that I desire to have, I'd say aim for the biggest bone in the shoulder and let'r rip. This is said given the reported, by some, inconsistent "iffy" terminal performance
My experience shows that Aluminum tipped bullets if not constructed properly will shed the tip early on an give a very crooked path resulting in very poor penetration.
I suppose brass tips would do the same but so far the ones I'm working with are located in the media within 4 or so inches of the bulk of the bullet with an 18" penetration.
bc and accuracy are what it's all about. MV isn't that big of a deal when the proper bullet is used for the proper application.
A problem with bullet selection for LRH is that we are so few in numbers. (But growing)
I may be the slowest guy on the mountain . . . . but . . . . I'm on the mountain!
The one main most important point in all said is when using target vld bullets use a large caliber. As stated there is no perfect bullet however you can overcome this with a 300 grain 338 bullet which will destroy whatever it hits. As you go smaller you takes your chances. That is the reason I have said on here nearly since the forum started. If your serious in long range hunting then get a big gun like a 338 or 375 caliber. We learned back in the 60's and 70's the 7mm's and smaller are not worthy and was proven with many lost animals yet newbies continue to try them and then as they gain experience and lose a few animals graduate to a 338. If a 7mm-300 wby wasn't enough in the 70's forget the little 7mm remington and wsm. A bullet in the right place and dead animal. Not in the right place and the 338 will kill it or make it so sick it will not go far for an easy follow up shot. A 7mm or smaller and you had better be dead on or forget it with a lost animal the bears will enjoy. Typically I can always tell a guys experience level by the chambering he is using for long range hunting.
My experience in hunting camps for 40 years all over north america is that hunters can talk way better than they can shoot. So please get a big gun and you will have far greater success overall at long range hunting. If you can't handle a big gun then shoot within your limitations with a little one. I know many don't like what I have to say on here but it comes from more experience than many guys combined will ever achieve together. I just state facts I have learned through the years. I put the truth out there and a guy can learn from it on the fast track or learn for himself through the years.
Predictions are difficult, especially when they involve the future
+1 for a bonded amax! Asked hornady about the possibility and there comment was "they had no plans for making such a bullet". Off the subject but does anyone know why hornady used to state the amax was ok for thin skinned game and now they state not for hunting. Also the new bthp bullets from hornady are interesting, they already had a match line of bullets why add another. I have never measured an equivelant amax vs. bthp but it seems they just chopped off the tip and slightly pointed the meaplat on the bthp's. Maybe a response to bergers great success the last few years.
Remington 700 7mm SAUM Magnum Research Barrel
Savage Target Action 6.5x47 Lapua
Savage Predator Hunter Max1 6.5-284 Norma
Savage Bear Hunter 338 Win Mag
"Gotta Kill It Before You Can Grill It"